Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
last updated 24 April 2007

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. The Platform for Action reaffirms the fundamental principal that the rights of women and girls are an "inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights." The Platform for Action also calls upon governments to take action to address several critical areas of concern, among them violence against women. The Platform for Action states, "Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The long-standing failure to protect and promote those rights and freedoms in the case of violence against women is a matter of concern to all States and should be addressed. . . . In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture. The low social and economic status of women can be both a cause and a consequence of violence against women."

The definition of violence, contained in the Platform for Action, is broad, including "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life."

The Beijing Platform for Action also requires all governments to develop strategies or national plans of action to implement the Platform locally. The National Plans of Action for each country outline specific activities that the national governments will undertake to improve the situation of women, including addressing violence against women.

In June 2000, the General Assembly adopted a political declaration reaffirming Member States’ commitment to the objectives set forth in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Member States also agreed to “assess regularly further implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action with a view to bringing together all parties involved in 2005 to assess progress and consider new initiatives, as appropriate, ten years after the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action and twenty years after the adoption of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women;” (para. 9). The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was mandated, in its 2002-2006 program of work, to undertake a review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The CSW’s agenda for its 49th session (2005) was twofold:

“Item 1
Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of the special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty -first century

Item 2
Current challenges and forward -looking strategies for the advancement and empowerment of women and girls.”

The Commission on the Status of Women issued a Declaration (PDF, 2 pages) in 2005, which reaffirms the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and calls for full commitment to its implementation.  

Women’s organizations have stressed the need to link the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs are comprised of eight goals, set by governments in 2002, which seek to eliminate global poverty by 2015. In approaching the review session, women’s organizations also reinforced the importance of coordination and cooperation between women’s NGOs. For example, both INSTRAW and UNIFEM have made open statements about their intention of working together to promote both the Beijing action plan and the MDGs.